Douglas Ross slammed by Shona Robison after 'shouting her down' at FMQs

Shona Robison fired several shots at Rishi Sunak and the Scottish Tories after U-turn on net zero policy <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Shona Robison fired several shots at Rishi Sunak and the Scottish Tories after U-turn on net zero policy (Image: PA)

DEPUTY First Minister Shona Robison tore into Rishi Sunak's "unforgivable" decision to water down the UK's net zero commitments which she claimed would have "serious implications" for Scotland's climate ambitions.

Robison insisted Sunak had "pulled the rug" from under Scotland and the UK, and said Tory leader Douglas Ross should be "ashamed" to back the Prime Minister after a raft of delays to climate policies.

It comes in a week which has seen Sunak – who still claims to believe the UK will hit its target of being net zero by 2050 – face fierce criticism from within his own party over the U-turns.

Ross attempted to change the narrative by pointing the finger at the SNP for missing climate targets in eight years out of the last 12.

READ MORE: Tory MSP snaps over net zero U-turn in bizarre FMQs moment 

The Deputy First Minister – who was standing in for Humza Yousaf at First Minister's Questions while he is in New York – told the chamber: "Douglas Ross is very brave going on this subject in a week where his Prime Minister has pulled the rug from under the net zero ambitions not just of the UK, but potentially damaging the ambitions of Scotland.

"That doesn’t just damage the environment, it damages jobs in the process. He should be ashamed to stand side by side with Rishi Sunak on that matter."

As Ross attempted to interrupt Robison's response, she added: "I've never allowed a man to shout me down in my life and I make no exception for Douglas Ross."

Robison said Sunak's announcements would have "serious implications" for Scotland's climate ambitions, insisting this was "unforgivable".

The SNP's energy spokesperson at Westminster Dave Doogan said earlier on Thursday that the Scottish Government will not be able to stick to its target of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 because the country is “snared” into the UK Internal Market Act.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan is expected to make an announcement in the chamber later on Thursday clarifying how Sunak's fresh approch will impact on Scottish policy.

Scottish Government officials have said they were "blindsided" by Sunak's announcement and are assessing the extent to which Scotland's targets will be affected by his change in direction.

Elsewhere at First Minister's Questions, Tory MSP Brian Whittle appeared to snap when he was jeered by the chamber after raising the subject of net zero.

In his question to Robison, Whittle asked what the Scottish Government’s response was to “reported comments from Cosla and council leaders questioning the achievability of net zero targets with a detailed plan and adequate funding?”

After laughter could be heard echoing across the chamber, Whittle looked visibly angry and made a mocking laughing noise right in front of the cameras, leading to the clip being shared widely online.

During the session Robison also confirmed no decision has yet been made on council tax as she clashed with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar over a consultation on raising rates for certain properties.

Robison said Labour had “turned their back” on raising more money through taxation, while Sarwar said the SNP are “making life harder for working people”.

A consultation document suggests there could be increases of 7.5% to 22.5% for properties in council tax Band E or higher.

READ MORE: Scottish peers 'fail to represent Scotland', report says

Sarwar said a family in Cambuslang where the mother is a nurse and the father is a teacher already face increases in their food costs, energy bills and mortgage payments.

He added: “Now the SNP want to make that worse by asking both mum and dad to pay more income tax, to pay hundreds of pounds more in council tax, and £15 a day to get to their work in Glasgow.

“This family is being let down by both Tory and SNP incompetence, both making life harder for working people.”

Robison replied: “Anas Sarwar is now getting his orders from Keir Starmer, and that is to not promise anything in terms of progressive taxation and to turn his back on raising additional funds.

“What Anas Sarwar should remember is that if we had followed what he seems to be suggesting, the Tory tax policy, we would have a billion pounds less for public services in our coffers.

“No decisions have been made in terms of council tax increases and he should not be saying to the people of Rutherglen or anywhere else that that is the case, because that is to mislead.”

Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton asked the Deputy FM about the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) at a suspected 254 NHS buildings.

Robison confirmed patients and staff will not be at risk despite the presence of the collapse-risk concrete in surgical wards.

An NHS Scotland Assure report shows the Grampian health board area has 52 buildings impacted, while there are 44 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 35 in Lothian and 29 in Tayside.

NHS Highland has 25 affected buildings, Fife 22, there are 18 in Lanarkshire, 10 in Ayrshire and Arran, eight in Forth Valley, and seven and three in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway health board areas respectively.

The buildings include surgical wards at Falkirk Community Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Glasgow and the University Hospital Monklands, Airdrie.

“No patients and no staff will be left in any dangerous building anywhere – and we shouldn’t suggest that because that worries people,” she said.